PORTLAND, Maine — Police say a 35-year-old homeless woman was assaulted Saturday morning in downtown Portland. Both were protestors taking part in the ‘sleep out’ at Portland City Hall to raise awareness of homelessness.
According to police, the victim was standing on Congress Street near Exchange Street when she felt someone approach her from behind and embrace her. She thought it was her husband until the suspect began to grope her in a sexual nature through her clothing. She turned and recognized the male as an individual who was also part of the protest.
An officer located Stanley Holmes, 30, of Portland a short time after the incident and he was arrested and charged with unlawful sexual contact.
The "sleep out" began Wednesday night in response to the ongoing homeless encampment in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park and housing crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic. The protest has no specific organizer; the group says the sleep out was organized collectively by people impacted by the housing crisis in Portland.
The Portland City Council is holding a special workshop on Monday to discuss the housing crisis. The protest group has collectively written demands to the City Council:
- Decriminalize camping out
- Defund the police
- Establish overdose prevention sites
- Plans for permanent affordable housing led directly by impacted people
- Extend eviction freeze
The statewide eviction freeze is set to end on August 3—the freeze was initially put in place by Gov. Janet Mills at the height of the pandemic in April.